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Episode 8: Preparing for The End

No one likes to think about "the end." What if instead of letting it scare us, we saw it as a way to hand off responsibility to the next generation? As we wrap up our series on the 6 Essentials for Finishing Well, we're talking about the issue of the end of our lives and what kind of legacy we want to leave.

Episode  8: Preparing for The End

Episode 08 - Prepare for the End
Wed, 5/18 1:19PM • 23:50
life, planning, finish, family, people, written, essential, death, scriptures, important, verses, seniors, randy, god, heaven, jesus, ministry, cremate, kids, joseph
Dr Hal Habecker, Dr Randy Hess

Dr Randy Hess 00:00
Hi everyone, welcome to finishing well podcast. We are focused on seniors. And we are glad to have you with us today. My name is Randy Hess. And I'm here with how Harberger the founder of finishing wall ministries. Good morning. How are you doing?

Dr Hal Habecker 00:29
Good morning, Randy. Great to see you. Great to have our listeners with us this morning for an important topic. You know, today we finished, we finished the six of our six essentials. They are grow, connect, love, invest, be available. Planning ahead, you can go back and listen to anyone if you're here listening to us for the first time today. We're at finishing well ministries dot o RG forward slash podcast, so you can pick them up there. And today we are talking about the last essential it is this, I will plan ahead for when I'm gone. And we're talking about the issue of the end of life or death, when we won't be here anymore. God has appointed all of our days, Psalm 139, verse 16, every one of them were written, God knows them the first day the last day. So what this six essential is, is talking about the last day days, the last season of our life. So let me just introduce this right away with a biblical frame of reference. So a couple of verses, I want you to think about Ecclesiastes seven, one, the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth. Why is that? You know, in the day of your death, you can look at a person's life. You know, I have had several close friends die in the past couple of weeks. And you know what their life is when you look back across it, and they're not here. So living our days means developing a perspective of what we want to be because our days are going to finish. And we have to purpose, how we finish how, what the impact of our lives is, please Asti seven verse two says it's better to go to the house of mourning, than the house of feasting, because there is the end of every man in the living takes it to heart. You know, we live with the end in view, it makes a huge difference of if we see the end of our lives and live backwards. You know, I think of the apostle Paul, Second Timothy four, seven, where Paul says at the end of his life, I have fought the fight the good fight, I have completed the course. And I have kept the faith. So Paul looked at the end of his life and said, How do I want to finish, I want to finish well, I want to do everything that God put me here to do, as best I can with His Spirit. Now I want to give you an example of a guy in the Bible who did exactly what we're talking about. If you would look in Genesis chapter 50, the person of Joseph is a critical example. He's a wonderful example of a man who lived all of his life, and he saw the end of it coming. And let me tell you what he does. He does a couple of things that I think are really critical. First of all, he put his life in perspective for his family. I don't want to recount his story, but as you remember, and at the age of 17, he was sold into slavery by his family, but he by his brothers, but he kept in perspective between age 17 and he died at 110. Golly, that's, you know, 93 years later, he puts all that in perspective for his family. He says you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. So at the end of your life, or as we live nearer to the end of our lives, are we putting our lives in perspective for our kids, our grandkids and those around us? You know, are we telling our story of God's faithfulness in our lives, and why we're here? That's one thing Joseph did. Every one of us needs to we need to tell our story. We need to write it down. We need to have it there for people pass it on from generation to generation. The second thing Joseph did he plan for his death? This is funny. I got funny. I made a serious, he made decisions about his death and what would happen to his body. You know, they embalmed it and he said I want you to carry my body back to check on where he was buried by By the way, 400 years later, but he he took assessment of where his body needed to be, you know, what are you going to do with your body when you die? Are you going to bury it you're going to cremate? It are? How are you going to talk to people about this? Are you going to make plans for it? Or are you going to die? And simply let your family say, well do whatever they want to do with me? I'm just an old carcass, you know? Are you going to will your body to a medical center to be you know, learn? I mean, there's just a whole assortment of things about what are you going to do after you're gone? Are you going to give your family any kind of an idea of what you want for a memorial service, who's to be involved some of your values, I mean, all those kinds of things. And then I want to say that the last thing Joseph did, and being an example, for planning ahead, he gave his family hope. You know, if you look at verses 24, and 25, in Genesis 50, he says twice, surely God will take care of you. You know, I want to say, as a Christian dad, as a Christian man, one of the messages I want to give to my family, and those around me is this, keep putting your faith and trust in God, He will take care of you just as he has taken care of me. So I mean, that's an overall picture. I mean, there are a lot of issues in this do I have all of the legal documents and, you know, a finished, you know, whether it's wills, trust, medical directives, I mean, all kinds of things. And COVID has really made all those things even more important in our lives, because the uncertainty of life, but it's always there, James forces, you don't know what tomorrow will bring. So my point in planning ahead for when we're gone, is to take into account the things that ought to be done. Before we finish this life as best we can. Now we don't know when that day will be, but you know, right now you can do, you can start planning ahead, you can cover these bases, you can tell your story, you can relate it to your kids, you can write it down, you can make decisions about your death, what do you want to happen, etc, etc. So that's kind of a framework. And we're just one last personal thing, you know, as a pastor for all of my life.

You know, too many people don't do this. I end up

Dr Hal Habecker 07:28
helping people think through issues, and families. And I want to say I wish people would pay more attention to this. So that's kind of the framework on I will plan ahead for when I'm gone, the last of the six essentials ready.

Dr Randy Hess 07:45
This is a critical, essential how for seniors, isn't it?

Dr Hal Habecker 07:51
Critical really is and it's not as if the scriptures don't give us any encouragement. You know, our culture has a, you know, Ernest Becker back in 1961, wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book called The Denial of Death. It's a book that impacted me back in my college years, if you can, believe it or not, I mean, just how you think ahead about these kinds of things. And we live in a culture that says, you know, I really don't think about, I don't need to think about the end of my life. I don't need to think about death. And all of a sudden is there. You know, I still think of Larry King, interviewing Billy Graham, you know, two decades ago, and Larry asked Billy, you know, all your years of ministry, is there anything that stands out? He says, Why don't you think about that, we'll take a break and come back. And Billy says, instantly, I don't need to take a break. Larry, let me tell you, the most significant thing to me is the brevity of life. You're here and you're gone. Life goes just like that. So anticipate and plan for it and plan for when you won't be here anymore? Well,

Dr Randy Hess 09:03
it certainly is something that seniors if they haven't grasped the importance of it, it's essential that they do and understand why. And I think you really provided them a good foundation for that howl in this in the way you presented this essential. I think people do though often nod their heads that Yes. I believe that and I believe that, you know, after I'm escorted into heaven, that things need to be handled properly, in my family and in my situation. But unfortunately, I think there's also a sense that many of them feel that I can leave that pretty much to my to my survivors and my errors and and let them let them is I'll be gone. Let them deal with it.

So what is

Dr Randy Hess 10:09
finishing? Well ministry saying about that attitude how that? Yes, it's important. Yes, something will have decisions will have

to be made. But I'll be gone.

Dr Randy Hess 10:25
So let those who are surviving make those decisions?

Dr Hal Habecker 10:32
Well, my thought is, you don't find that mentality true in Scripture at all. I mean, even the verses that I quoted from Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, I believe, you know, he saw the end of his life. And he looked at it. And he said, I need to leave wisdom for the last days of one's life, for those who are following me. And I think that's the message of Ecclesiastes, at whatever age, how do you look at every day? And how do you look at the end of your life? Ecclesiastes 12, the first seven verses is the most descriptive poem presentation of the last days of life as any form of literature I know. I mean, it's critical that we think about that, you know, and I think of Jesus, he spent his whole life looking at the end. That's why he came, he came to die for our sin, and give his own life as a servant, you know, in that death. So, you know, Hebrews 12, you know, we're surrounded by a whole host of saints watching us finish our lives. So I want to look at Jesus, I want to look to people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, I mean, we have the records of these, you go to Joshua 24, and you have the record of how Joshua finished his life, at age 110. Again, I mean, you have these exams, you have David, I mean, you just go right through the Scriptures, they're there for anyone to see. And for us to take note of, and to do the things that are essential for us and covering our bases. And I don't think it's fair to say, Well, I'm gonna die and let my kids or my spouse or whatever, make all those decisions that's not being responsible to what God has given us as our assignment and seen our lives. Does that make sense? Does

Dr Randy Hess 12:40
just, it is overcoming some some biases, though, or maybe some barriers, if you want to call it that how to, to join this because there are many seniors who do not feel comfortable or just don't want to think about these things. They feel like that's something I can't deal with. And I guess we simply are trying to say we're, we want to encourage you to say that's part of what finishing well means part of leaving a legacy of trying to take care of as many things about you about myself as I can possibly do. Is that correct?

Dr Hal Habecker 13:21
That is correct. And let me tell you, you watch families, just the way I have watched families all my life, it makes it so much easier on families who survive if the one who is deceased, and goes to heaven before everybody else, covers his or her bases and leaves a legacy in this area, not only with their whole life, but in this these final months, weeks, days, years. And finishing our course. Well. I think that's part of our ministry, encouraging older people to finish well, what one more example you know, J i Packer went to be with the Lord earlier, last summer 2020, you wrote a book three years before he died, it may have been more than three years. And it called finishing our course with joy. You know, his philosophy was I want to finish well, I want to go out with everything I can. I want to cover all my bases. And I want to leave a legacy to encourage everybody else to do the same thing. And you know, that's what he did with his life. And they're great examples for us, around us in Scripture in history. And in the church. It's awesome.

Dr Randy Hess 14:43
So let's talk about the some of the particulars of this, how for just a moment. There you mentioned that there are different aspects to how we can finish well with with, with, with our death and with with what we leave for other People,

legal things could be part of that.

Dr Randy Hess 15:05
How to administer things? Am I correct? That's part of it.

Dr Hal Habecker 15:09
Exactly. Make sure your holes are current. Yes, all of us.

Dr Randy Hess 15:14
So there's documents involved in this, there is the the how I want to actually pass away? Is there not how I want that process to go? Do I have the documents for that? To have a living? Well, do you know do I have? What do I have in that area? And then how do I want to be buried? That's what I want or cremated. And then the the, what do I want from my memorial? What do I want? If there is, and I have to assume a lot of a lot of us might kind of say, I don't really, I don't care what anybody says, My Memorial, you know, I'm smiling down at them. I don't need to worry about it. But it's probably important to provide some kind of input, is it not to your spouse, to your loved ones, to your family, to someone close to you about what you'd like to have in that in that service? Is that true?

Dr Hal Habecker 16:13
I believe that is true, I think you you're the one who can make those decisions better than anybody else. And I believe that we ought to have those kinds of discussions with our spouse and our adult kids and leave some things written down and saying, This is what I want, you can change it, because I might not be here, but I don't want to leave you aimless, that'll leave you wondering, well, how do we honor dad or mom or grant or whatever? I mean, I think those are areas where we need to take the initiative, and figure them out, as best we can under the Spirit of God.

Yep. Yeah, we're not asking for each of us to

Dr Randy Hess 16:57
write specific words to put in people's mouths are we're just saying we want we want them to think through the overall process that they want to have used for their memorial, and they're, how they're remembered. And what happens to their specific remains. Let me give

Dr Hal Habecker 17:19
you let me give you another illustration of this. I have a good friend who went to be in Florida some years ago here in Dallas. It was a very successful Christian businessman by the name of Fred Smith. He planned his memorial service and part of his memorial service was a 10 minute video that they played at his service, where he was speaking to the congregants who were there. He spoke to his family, he spoke to his wife he spoke. Why No, he didn't speak to his wife. His wife predeceased him, I think, but he spoke to his kids. He's involved everybody there. And it is marvelous. Every time I speak on this six essential, I show Fred's video as an example. You don't have to do it. And by the way, thinking about details, all the details of your life, like all your accounts, you know, I mean, somebody, there should be a record of all of that somewhere that anybody can easily access are people in your family? In covering your bases at the end of life?

Yes. That's

Dr Randy Hess 18:27
so so for families, for kids, grandkids, other family members, is it is important isn't how for your your specific possessions, whatever they are, they can be few. Or they can be many. But that if you have a will, for that those possessions to be distributed in a certain way. Are heirlooms going to? I'll call them heirlooms? What important things to go to certain people that have mentioned them in the past? Or you've talked with them about them? It's probably important to get those things out there to somewhere written down, is it not?

Dr Hal Habecker 19:06
Well, it is if any of your kids want them? Yeah, most of our kids don't want our stuff. Right. That sense. And I don't mean Avalere about it, but they're just different value system,

right? Yes.

Dr Randy Hess 19:17
But if there is something that has been in previous discussion, that's what we're talking about, too, is just making sure that you are planning for the idea that this transition could be smoother if I help it. Absolutely. I mean, you know what, I'm sorry. Yeah. What we don't want is some of the things that that you I think have seen and other friends of ours who have been funeral directors have seen in families that do not do this. And the legacy then no matter what I tried to make my life about can turn pretty ugly and bitter, can it not?

Dr Hal Habecker 19:59
Boy Ken and you can see a lot of that on end of life issues, as kids and families may quickly argue over who has what, etc, etc. Now, before we finish, Randy, I want to add one more quick thought. And like we said, this is an immense topic. So I just we just want to whet your appetite for this today. You know, one of the things we're going to heaven as believers, Jesus says, I go ahead to prepare a place for you that when I come again, you may be there. In John 1724, he prays that you may be in my home with my father. So there is this whole conversation about heaven, which we ought to be having as we age. And I like to ask people, so when's the last time you've had a conversation with somebody, your spouse or a group of friends or your Bible study about heaven? Anticipating it? What will it be like, you know, Randy Alcorn has really helped us he's written some marvelous books, but his are not the only ones. There's some great things out there. And I think Jesus wants us to think about being with him. And what happened might be like the scriptures have much to say about this. So as part of planning for when we won't be here is our own anticipation of being with Jesus, and what it might be like to be in that world with him. So that that's a final point, then our planning ahead for when we won't be here, though, all those conversations about wrapping up life and about our next life. Does that make sense?

Does. And that's really an awe inspiring process, for those of us to go through it. To think

Dr Randy Hess 21:49
about that, to think about the fact that we are saved, that we're going to be there with Jesus. And what is that going to be like? It just is a tremendously it's a way to have some joy, and expect expectedly isn't it how?

Dr Hal Habecker 22:07
Well it really is. Paul says in first Corinthians two i has not seen nor has ear heard, we cannot imagine all that God has planned for those who love Him. So anyways, I really I've really enjoyed going through these six essentials with you. The importance of growing, connecting, loving, investing, being available and yes, planning ahead, taking a realistic assessment of our lives. And closing the deal you might say, I mean, it's the final capstone of life, which Joseph illustrates Joshua. I mean, you've already through the scriptures it's so rich and planning ahead. So you know, I encourage anyone listening to go to finishing well, ministries dot o RG forward slash podcast and keep sharing these with others if they've been helpful to you. And if you have thoughts about what you'd like to see us address in these ongoing podcasts. We're looking forward to 2021 working together Randy with you and who knows others and how God will open availability in ways that we can't even thought of yet this so Randy, my hat's off to you, and I appreciate you very, very much. Thanks. So,

Dr Randy Hess 23:28
thanks. Appreciate that.

Dr Hal Habecker 23:30
Okay, take care of God bless and we'll see you on our next podcast. Have a good day.

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